Everyone wants to go to Europe, but not everyone is willing or able to finance an expensive trip across the Atlantic to that fabled patisserie in the cultural heart of Paris. The budget airline Norwegian Air Shuttle has been presenting plans to shatter that prohibitive expense for some time, though, and the carrier's newest announcement is sure to make the daunting price of European travel seem more like a bad dream than a sad reality.
On Wednesday, the carrier announced two new routes that will enable people who -- gasp -- don't live in New York or Los Angeles to fly to London for a fraction of the traditional cost. Chicagoans are at the crux of this deal: Starting March 25, 2018, one-way flights from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to London's Gatwick Airport will be available for just $175. The route will be phased in as a year-round option available four times per week, which starts to sound even more enticing when you compare the modest price point with what's currently on the market. (The return leg should run you about $232, according to the Chicago Tribune).
The premise gets even better if you live in Texas, as Norwegian has its sights set on Austin. Denizens of the college town are getting swept up in the deal too. On March 27 of next year, Norwegian will phase in a new year-round, three-weekly route from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Gatwick for $250, with return flights starting around $350, according to Conde Nast Traveler. The Austin to London fare is a bit pricier, but still contains fewer zeroes and commas than you should be accustomed to seeing in transatlantic airfare.
This is all part of Norwegian eyeing its long-term strategy, which is to make flights between the US and Europe more accessible. The discount carrier already maintains flights from nine US cities to London's Gatwick Airport, after expanding from just three American markets in 2014. Bjørn Kjos, Norwegian’s Chief Executive Officer, said in a press release: “Many people said low-cost long-haul would never work but three years, 13 routes and 1.5 million UK passengers later and Norwegian has shown there is huge demand for more affordable long-haul travel.”
It's worth noting that the discounted rates only apply to economy flights, which don't promise extra legroom or complimentary meals. But when you're traveling on a budget, you're ultimately saving money for better food once you land. Besides, the museums in London are all free, so you'll be able to splurge where it really counts.